Spurs not talking about streak heading into West final

Associated Press
5/21/2012 3:24:26 PM
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SAN ANTONIO -- Eighteen wins in a row, and eight more victories to go.

That says it all about how the San Antonio Spurs are steamrolling through these playoffs at a pace that is flirting with NBA history, even if they are saying as little about it as possible.

"We don't have any secret. We don't even think about it," Spurs guard Tony Parker said.

There's plenty for everyone else to mull.

Like whether these Spurs -- some 13 years after winning their first of four championships -- actually might be the best version yet as they get ready for their first Western Conference finals since 2008. They'll play either the Los Angeles Lakers or Oklahoma City. If the Thunder wins Monday night, Game 1 will be Sunday in San Antonio.

Sweeping the Clippers last weekend put San Antonio's winning streak among the 10 longest in league history -- tied for fifth along with Michael Jordan's 72-win Chicago Bulls in 1996, among others. Eighteen straight victories is a franchise record, and getting to 19 would tie the 2001 Lakers for the record of longest winning streak kept alive in the post-season.

Yet with the Spurs facing another weeklong break until their next series -- just as they had after sweeping Utah in the first round -- Parker said before leaving Los Angeles that he won't pass the time weighing where this run is starting to stack up in the Tim Duncan era.

"Until we go all the way, I can't compare this team," Parker said.

Duncan, who's averaging 17.6 points and nine rebounds in the playoffs, at least acknowledged getting the same vibe as he felt during championship runs in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

But that's as much as he's willing to say.

"It feels a lot like some of the other championship teams. In saying that, we haven't done anything yet," Duncan said. "We've won two rounds. We haven't done anything so you can't qualify, or classify our team as anything other than that we've gotten this far."

That's not entirely true: these Spurs can be classified as the higher-scoring, better-shooting and more balanced than in any of their four championship seasons. San Antonio is the only playoff team averaging more than 100 points per game (102.5), and unlike in their previous championship runs, Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili aren't burdened with more than half the scoring load.

The Big Three are so far responsible for 46 per cent of San Antonio's playoff points. In 2007 and 2005, they accounted for at least 62 per cent.

"We're a deeper team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's good to face your problems. We knew we had to get younger. Kawhi (Leonard) and (Danny) Green made us a lot younger. It's been a process these last couple of years to get these younger kids. With any championship, we have never gone into a playoff thinking we can get it done. We go in with appropriate fear. "

Yet any fear so far has seemed to come from the opposing locker room. Jazz forward Al Jefferson said he didn't see anyone beating the Spurs during their first-round series, which wasn't even finished at the time. The Clippers confronted the reality of successfully harassing Parker into his lowest-scoring playoff game since 2003 in Game 1, only to get burned with a franchise-record 3-point barrage by the rest of the Spurs.

Forward Stephen Jackson, who won with the Spurs in 2003 and rejoined them at the trade deadline this season, said despite the changes the energy feels the same. "This year reminds me of when I was here last time," he said.

Duncan isn't getting that specific. He just says the Spurs have a chance.

"We're excited about the opportunity now," Duncan said. "We'll see what happens."


AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Tony Parker Tim Duncan (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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